I’ve spent a lot of time as a product manager analyzing user data – return visits, length of stay, pages view, actions performed, etc. And over time, you can track the long tail of engagement – how deeply the average user is engaged with your service – and then make usability improvements, ad new features, create marketing incentives, etc. to increase that engagement.
As social media gets more integrated into art marketing and sales software, we are starting to have better ways to track our marketing’s effect to the bottom line. Did the twitter promotions or you tube promo video drive the user to the box office? This is good thing. It’s about the business side and you want cut and dry numbers.
But what about audience engagement? Yes, you can track how many people tweet about your show as the exit the theatre. That’s the short tail – the immediate engagement we have from any experience that is interesting. I could blog about a dinner as much as I could an art show. But what about the long tail of engagement – the impact that the art or show had 3 months or 3 years later.
There are theatre shows, performances, music and art that has made a lasting impact on me. The best ones are often difficult to digest and only after a long engagement with it, have they managed to change the way I think and view the world. The way they engage me is deeply embedded in my psyche. It’s untrackable admist those mysterious waters.
So as we continue to track all of our interactions with the audience to increase our ROI, I hope we don’t forget that the engagement that the arts originally intended was for the soul.